AFRICANGLOBE – Ethnic minority businesses contribute in the region of £40bn to the UK economy. However government research shows that while almost a third of Black people in England want to start their own business, only 4% actually manage to do so – a level lower than any other ethnic group.
Despite this, if you add gender into the mix, the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor has identified Black women as the most entrepreneurial female group based on total economic activity.
Data aside, if you ask the average person to name a well-known female Black British business owner they would really struggle. Ask them to name two and it’s probably game over. As a young Black woman who is the mother of two young girls, I wanted to start a dialogue where the names of Black women in business could begin to trip off your tongue.
So, I started the Twenty Ten Club. Passionate about showcasing the achievements of Black female business role models, the club shares the success stories of more than 100 Black female entrepreneurs on our website. We host peer-to-peer business development focused events for fellow business owners. We provide Black female business speakers for corporate events, conferences and workshops across the country.
Most importantly, we believe in paying it forward. This is how our Interview an Entrepreneur school programme came into being. The remit is to provide the opportunity for students, of all ages and backgrounds, to connect with leading Black women in business.
Anyone who knows me personally will testify that I’m not the type of woman who cries at work. However, not long ago, I logged into my inbox and opened an email that literally reduced me to tears. This is what it said:
“Dear Octavia, I have never had girls queuing outside my classroom door at the end of school just to say thank you and to explain just how grateful they felt at being given the opportunity to share the experience of a lifetime with you and the others today. You really touched our girls in the way that is just not possible from a book or class environment.
“I told the girls that they must remember this day when they are successful so that they may return and inspire the next generation.”
Earlier that day we has hosted an Interview an Entrepreneur workshop in Islington for a small group of secondary school students.
Recent supporters of our school workshops include Twenty Ten Club UK chair, Ronke Ige, the talented serial entrepreneur and Prince’s Trust ambassador; executive coach and author Jenny Garrett, founder of Reflexion Associates and Clare Eluka, the pioneering powerhouse behind beauty brand Premae Skincare.
Opening that unexpected email triggered unprecedented emotion for me. I realised a seed of an idea had culminated in an invaluable experience for all the women, young and experienced, sitting side by side at that boardroom table.
The Twenty Ten Club started in London and, under the leadership of media entrepreneur Catherine Phiri, now has a presence in Lusaka, Zambia. It’s an honour to amplify the work of so many Black business women and the best part of it all is forging connections with the next generation of young women who will follow in their footsteps.
Give them a few years and, fingers crossed, we’ll all know their names.
By: Octavia Goredema
Ms. Goredema MBE is the founder of the Twenty Ten Club and a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts